This article is part of a series of staff insights, observations and perspectives to commemorate Black History Month. Click here to see related items.
Early one morning on the train into the city, I noticed a woman and a child sitting quietly in their seats enjoying the bumpy ride during our shared commute. As the train came out of the tunnel and the sun streamed in, illuminating their faces, the woman quickly closed her eyes and asked out loud “What do you see?” The little girl followed suit and closed her eyes, answering “I see red,” to which the woman replied, “I see green,” and on and on they played this game until the train disappeared back into the tunnel and the sunlight faded away.
As I watched them play this game, I noted that with eyes tightly shut they really could not see anything at all but were instead translating visual perceptions of the sun’s rays and it’s rainbow like emissions into the colors in their mind. From my point-of-view this pattern of non-visual sight is what is demonstrated every time the discussion around creating a diverse workforce is approached. Most principals engaged in the process articulate diverse as a noun, instead of the adjective that it is. We divest it of its importance as a key modifier of the actual needs that define the human capital required to achieve diversity in the workplace. It’s people!
“Call a thing… A Thing.” – Iyanla Vanzant
To perfect a thing, one must first know what it is. The Oxford dictionary defines diverse as “showing a great deal of variety; very different.” It does not define skin color or ethnicity or sexual orientation or the various identifiers that are replaced by the word diverse. Diversity is no longer just an option or an opinion, it’s a need for the future success of our industry. We need more people of color, representing every religious, ethnic and socioeconomic background and sexual orientation to truly be successful client partners.
As a woman who is African and American and more, I am eternally curious. I am eager to know what makes my fellow human beings who they are. I want to know what makes them laugh, worry, cry and I wonder about their approach to life, work and shopping. This wealth of knowledge is the treasure trove that each human professional can elevate when solving for multi-dimensional clients in every space. Diverse as defined provides a firm foundation from which we can gain the knowledge on how to achieve a workforce that is truly representative of my mind’s eye view of the world.
Consider a few Stats – There are over 7 billion people in our world and approximately 75% of us live in Asia and Africa. In the United States, the Consulting Industry’s workforce breakdown is 61% White, 7.4% Black and 14.6% Asian.
Source: Workplace Diversity Report 2018 – Namely Library
Do the math…Perceive it, Know It, Do it
Diversity is a purposeful adventure and should be approached as such. This is what we celebrate when we elevate months like Black History Month – we celebrate the journey of all of us together.